Searchers scouring land and sea for missing cyclist
A costal search will resume today for Co Antrim father-of-three Samuel Campbell who went missing on New Year’s Day.
The 49-year-old keen cyclist from near Kells had gone for a bike ride on Sunday afternoon but hasn’t returned home.
Police and rescue teams had been searching a wide area around his home from the weekend until Mr Campbell’s bike was discovered by a member of the public on the shore outside Glenarm village on Tuesday evening.
Up to 60 searchers from a range of statutory and voluntary agencies combed a 10-mile radius of land and sea along the scenic coastline yesterday.
The Coastguard and lifeguards called off their search at 3pm but will resume today at 11am.
Mr Campbell’s wife Laverne and his grown-up children were described as “too distraught” to speak about their loved one’s disappearance. However, speaking in an earlier television interview, she said: “He is committed to his work, his family and to cycling and did everything 100%. He wanted to get his training started early and that is why he went out on Sunday.”
Friends of the businessman braved the driving rain and wind to join the search and rescue operation yesterday.
“It’s the early stages yet but we heard the bike was found last night and four of us decided to come out here today and help if we can,” one friend said.
“The family are with the minister in Kells today but they may come down later.” Speaking at Glenarm Marina office yesterday, Gordon Munro (below), HM Coastguard sector manager, explained the operation: “We were tasked to start a search on behalf of the police at 11am and we called in two lifeboats from Larne and Red Bay.
“We have Coastguard teams from Ballycastle, Larne and Portmuck. We have searched from Garron Point to Ballygalley, which is five miles north and five miles south.”
Mr Munro described how friends of Mr Campbell who had been helping had been asked to be cautious around the coastline.
“The conditions are treacherous with very slippery rocks,” he said.
“We have asked them not to place themselves in danger. But the family are distraught because of the person missing. All liaison with the family has been through the police.
“The emergency services are grateful to Larne Borough Council for the use of these facilities.”
Sean McCarry, from the Community Rescue Service, said 32 of its volunteers had taken part in the search along the coast.
“We are in the middle of three searches at the moment,” he said.
“As well as Mr Campbell, we are conducting searches for two other missing men in Limavady and Strabane.”
Extensive searches have been carried out along the River Foyle and River Mourne following the disappearance of David Colhoun (22) from Lifford in May.
Limavady man James Frew (63) has been missing since last month after he went missing in Roe Valley Country Park.
No new clues to follow as teams battle the grimmest of conditions
Dozens of rescue workers battled against relentless rain and strong gusts of wind along the Antrim coast where Samuel Campbell’s bike was discovered.
But no new clues to the 49-year-old’s whereabouts emerged yesterday as crews from the police, Coastguard and mountain and community rescue organisations searched in the grimmest of conditions.
The wintry weather turned the stunning scenic coastline into a dismal, grey watercolour yesterday.
Police tape fluttered around the small cove outside Glenarm where Mr Campbell’s bike was found among the boulders on the shore.
This is a rugged part of the coast with large jagged rocks rising from the inland side of the winding coast road.
The stony bay is easily accessible from the road, with a low stone wall and a grass headland the only barriers to reaching the sea.
Sheets of rain blurred the horizon between sky and sea yesterday which made the sight of two bright red lifeboats all the more striking.
The lifeboats were deployed from Larne and Red Bay and bobbed along on the swelling sea as the wind showed no mercy to the rescue teams.
A couple of men from nearby Glenarm had joined in the search. They said the village was alive with rumours about the bike’s discovery.
“We thought we’d just lend a hand when we heard the news,” one of the men said.
“Nobody seems to know the man in the village but he used to have a boat in the marina.”
The tiny village, tucked in a bend on the coast, was deathly quiet yesterday.
Cafes and B&Bs were shut up for the winter, but the lights were on inside the blue-washed walls of Glenarm Marina Office which had been commandeered as the centre for the search operation.
Drenched rescue workers in luminous yellow and orange jackets stomped into the tiny offices looking for shelter and a cup of tea.
As the light faded yesterday, hastened by the lingering dark clouds over the coast, |the Coastguard and lifeguards called off their searches, |but have determined to resume them today.
A loving father well-known for his devotion to his family and his faith
By John Mulgrew
Samuel Campbell was known for his staunch Christian faith and dedication to helping others.
The reasons for the 49-year-old’s disappearance remain a mystery and those who know the father-of-three are still in shock.
Brian Boyd is the minister of Kells Presbyterian Church where Mr Campbell is a member — after being converted two years ago. “I’ve been here about 20 years and his wider family circle have been part of the church for a long time,” he said.
“Then about two years ago he was converted and then he became very involved — the Lord became his life.”
Rev Boyd said that in |the last year Mr Campbell had been involved in several missions where he had helped in construction — building a church in Israel in March last year and also assisting the Dublin Christian Mission.
“Sam’s a lovely man — very warm-hearted and full of life. Very family oriented,” Rev Boyd added.
According to the minister, the keen cyclist spends his Saturdays with his young grandchild Troy — “every Saturday is ‘Troy day’.”
He said: “The main thing the family want to get across is that if anyone in the Glenarm area has seen Sam to get in touch with police.
“If Sam himself is reading this, then please contact the family.”
Mr Campbell’s neighbour, TUV leader Jim Allister (below), said that the family was well-known in the area.
“He’s very much a family man and the Campbells would be well-known,” he said.
“He only lives about 150 metres from me and that’s out in |the countryside.
“The whole thing has been a shock for everyone around here and we’re feeling very much for the entire family.”
He said on Sundays he would wave at Mr Campbell — who often cycled around the area — as he was out walking his dog.
Those who know him said they were always aware of his love for his family and his faith, as well as his interest in cycling and his good work helping others in need over the past few years.